Our newest team member is safari specialist Victoria Herbert. Here’s an introduction.
It might be in the genes. Growing up with parents in the travel industry meant that geography was everyone’s favorite subject (and road trip fodder!). Born in Germany to British parents, Victoria was raised in Germany, the U.S. and Scotland. It was only natural for her to forge a career in the travel industry, beginning in destination marketing and then becoming a tour operator specializing in Africa.
So, you lived in quite few places before settling in the U.S.?
Yes, I lived in Germany until I was 11 years old, then we moved to the U.S. for a while – in fact, to the town I live in now, which is 15 minutes away from the African Portfolio offices! After a couple of years, I went to boarding school in Scotland as my parents were still traveling a lot. My parents are both from Scotland and my paternal grandmother lived close to the school. It was here that my interest in Africa was sparked – many of my classmates came from countries like Botswana, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and their stories of home were so fascinating to me.
It also means I have friends all over Africa that I didn’t just meet through work trips!
How did your career path lead you to Africa?
During university in Scotland where I did a BA (Hons) degree in Marketing and German, I did a number of travel-related internships with hotels, tour operators, and a destination marketing company promoting Berlin. I later went to work for them, and also ended up working for Visit Britain, the national tourist board.
After that I worked for a tour operator in Connecticut with a focus on southern Africa, and it was here that I really got to know the destinations, down to the individual hotels and properties.
What do you love about Africa?
There’s the natural beauty, of course, but for me it’s the people you meet. They have such a love for their country and are so passionate about sharing it with others, and this really shines through. It allows for visitors to have a truly authentic experience. It’s so easy to travel to Europe and of course there are amazing destinations there, but there’s something soul-searching about Africa. It’s impossible to leave without it changing you in some way, and I have not met one single person who has come back without wanting to go again as there’s always another side to discover. It’s not one of those places that you can ever say “been there, done that”.
For me, creating an African itinerary for a client isn’t just a job, it’s a journey, from the first telephone call until the trip is completed. For many clients, a safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it is a delight to help create memories that will last forever.
What’s your favorite African destination?
My usual answer is “The last place I visited” but highlights include hiking the dunes of Sossussvlei, a peaceful mokoro ride through the Okavango Delta and listening to the sounds of a pride of lions interacting in pitch darkness on a night drive. I’m about to go to Kenya – I’m sure that that’s going to become a new favorite.
I think my love for Africa is best summed up with this quote by Ernest Hemingway: “I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy.”